Why is My Dog Afraid of Everything?
When it comes to your dog, they’re part of your family. And we want to make sure that you’re picking up on the right signals and not just walking round thinking “my dog is scared of everything all of a sudden”. Or, worse, “my dog is scared of people” and “my dog is being aggressive and acting strange around people”.
These things can become a bit of a detriment to the way you can enjoy time out together and around other people who might wander by.
So, being the dog lovers with a few tips and tricks under the ethereal belt at Hiputee, we’re going to get you through some dog fear FAQs:
Why is My Dog Afraid of Random Objects?
Dogs can become afraid of pretty much anything at any stage of their lives. Be it something at home or outside. However, they’re typically all related to some sort of trauma or introduction to something new. On rare occasions, fear can be a genetic predisposition inherited from fearful mothers.
In fact, most of the time it’s due to lack of socialising or experiencing throughout their puppy years. Then, they become weary and frightened throughout adulthood.
So, they’re never as ‘out of the blue’ as we think they are. The only thing to be weary of, ourselves, would be the way we react to certain behaviours.
For example, when you immediately realise “my dog is scared of people”, you may want to console them in the same way you would a child. But they don’t understand the way we communicate. So, this consolidation can often be mistaken for positive reinforcement which teaches them to become a much more timid dog with time.
How Do I know if My Dog is Scared of People?
Our dogs have four innate reactions: fight, flight, avoidance and surrender. Of course, we also have fight or flight making these very familiar. However, when it comes to new stimuli or even negative experiences, our fluff-bags can show fear through flight running away, fight or avoidance. When, really, we want surrender (i.e., calm).
To get to the realisation that “my dog is scared of everything all of a sudden” you want to be able to pick-up on their reactions. Whether it's to people, sounds, smells, tastes, light, movement and more.
Some of the common signs your dog is afraid include:
- Biting themselves, objects or people
- Body shaking
- Flight response
- Frequent yawning
- Fur appearing to be stood up on the neck or back
- Growling with teeth on show
- Head down while looking up
- Immobility or slow movements
- Pinned-back ears
- Sudden stop or change in breathing
- Tucked-in tail
What are Some Common Fears in Dogs?
To make sure you’re not thinking “why is my dog afraid of random objects”, we want to give you a bit more information about some of the common fears in our pups. A lot, of which, we probably wouldn’t give a second thought to.
Of course, there are some obvious ones such as loud noises and the ever-daunting trip to the vets. But there are some that are a little less conspicuous such as other dogs.
Here is a list of common fears in dogs:
- Bad Weather
- Car Journeys
- Running Water
What Are Ways to Help Soothe a Scared Dog?
If you do find yourself coming to the conclusion “my dog is scared of everything all of a sudden” it’s important you know all the ways you can help soothe them.
This avoids any behaviour reinforcement and any unwanted injuries (for anyone). It also avoids your dog becoming fearful for the same objects again in the future.
1. Calm Tone and Body Language
As we already know, fear is what brings out behaviours that we can see as negative or aggressive. So, reacting negatively to these behaviours can actually make them even more fearful.
With that, it’s important to not shout, chase or make any sudden movements. In fact, it’s best to remain as calm as possible, keep a monotonous voice, move slowly and don’t look them in the eye until the last moment.
2. Desensitization Tricks
When we say desensitisation tricks, we mean following on from keeping a calm tone and body. Then, we mean slowly introducing the fear back to your dog in a controlled way.
It helps to know what motivates your dog in these scenarios so you can use what’s called “shaper training”. This simply means taking everything one small paw-step at a time.
For example, if your pup has a love for a specific teddy and a fear toward a hoover. You can introduce them to the hoover while it is turned off and their favourite teddy is slumped up against it.
With a little time, your dog will become desensitised to the fear and the hoover can begin to slowly do its chores around the house again.
3. Patience with Allelomimetic Behaviour
Yes, we know, it’s a long and horrible word. However, ‘allelomimetic behaviour’ is when your pet will begin to mimic your behaviours in relation to certain stimuli. Whether it’s a new place, smell, sight, person or sound.
But, again, this really relies on you remaining calm in the situation and providing some reinforcement to the behaviours that are positive. So, while you remain calm, let them have the time to calm themselves and as they do, you can begin to show physical affection such as a scratch behind the ears.
4. Dog Bed Rewards
Just like when you climb into bed after a long day and feel that instant relief: our pups do, too.
This one is definitely more related to the fears your pup can experience at home.
While you shouldn’t positively reinforce a negative or fearful behaviour in the presence of the fear, when they flee the scene and relax, they can go to their new bed. It then gives you the space to begin comforting them and slowly desensitising them to their fear.
When you’re at home and you’re puzzled thinking “my dog is scared of everything all of a sudden”, have a think about who is there with you.
While we might not be afraid of small kids bouncing off the walls, our dogs can become very fearful of this activeness in small humans. So, if you do have little ones running around the home, ensure your dog knows they have a secluded hide-away that is just for them.
Unfortunately, not all our dogs respond well to efforts of allelomimetic behaviour, patience, desensitisation or hide-aways.
So, the next best thing is speaking to your vet and dog behaviourist. Of course, if your dog becomes fearful of the vet, we’d advise taking a telephone consultation. Otherwise, have your vet look over your furry friend to make sure there’s nothing else that could be causing them discomfort.
Here at Hiputee, this is the place where pets are family and that’s why we specialise in dog comfort. From providing you dog treats like these articles to making sure you know where to find the right level of comfort for your four-legged friend.
With dog beds, dog pads, dog pillows, dog pens, dog houses and dog treats. There’s everything to help make sure you’re no longer asking, “why is my dog afraid of random objects?”.
If you want to know more about choosing the right dog bed for fear and anxiety, have a look at some of our other articles: